Like most states, New Jersey does not mess around when it comes to drinking and driving. With many campaigns and other forums warning against the dangers of drunk driving, there is plenty of material dispersed on the subject that drivers should heed.
The consequences of drunk driving can be catastrophic for everyone involved, especially if a driver operating a vehicle while intoxicated causes an accident. That is why there are DWI (driving while intoxicated) laws in place with stern consequences for those who violate these laws.
When Can You Be Charged with Driving While Intoxicated in New Jersey?
For starters, in the state of New Jersey, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is equal to or above the legal limit. The legal limit for an adult over the age of 21 is .08 percent, which is the standard measurement of a legally impaired driver across the country. It is important to note that New Jersey also has smaller limits for those under the age of 21 (.02 percent) and for commercial drivers (.05 percent).
A police officer can pull you over and if signs point to the possibility of driving while intoxicated they will ask you to exit the vehicle to perform a field sobriety test. If they believe you to be too drunk to drive they will ask you to take a breathalyzer test. It is important to know that in New Jersey it is illegal to refuse a breathalyzer test and you will be subject to a fine and automatic license suspension.
NJ Penalties for Refusing a Breathalyzer
The first offense where you refuse to take a breathalyzer test will subject you to a license suspension for seven months and fine between $300 and $500. While this penalty is similar to the penalty for a first-time DWI offender, you could still end up receiving a DWI charge even if your refusal to take the test means the state does not have proof your BAC was above the legal limit. It is usually in your best interest to submit to the breathalyzer test.
For a first-time DWI offense, the penalty carries a suspension of your license for up to three months. It also carries a fine between $250 and $400 and a jail sentence of up to 30 days. On top of that, you will also have to spend a minimum of six hours a day for two consecutive days in an intoxicated driver resource center and pay an automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 a year for the next three years.
The consequences only get worse if you become a repeat offender. On your second DWI conviction, the license suspension jumps up to anywhere between seven months and one year. You can be sentenced to jail for up to 90 days and you will be fined between $500 and $1,000. Your second offense carries the same penalties for time in an intoxicated driver resource center as well as the cost of an automobile insurance surcharge.
Repeat DWI Offenders in New Jersey Face Severe Penalties
If convicted of a third offense in New Jersey then you will be fined a minimum of $1,000 and your license will be suspended for 10 years. It also carries a jail sentence of up to 180 days. At this level, the insurance surcharge also bumps up to $1,500 a year for the following three years.
One last thing that is important to keep in mind is that in New Jersey you could be arrested for a DWI even if you were not driving. If you let another person operate your vehicle and they were drunk then you could also be charged with a DWI. New Jersey does this in an effort to punish those who put drunk drivers on the road as much as drunk drivers themselves.
When it comes down to it, your best bet is to never drink and drive. But mistakes do happen and if that is the case for you or a loved one, then you should contact an experienced lawyer.
Experienced New Jersey Attorney Fights DWI Charges
At CourtLaw, esteemed attorney Karim Arzadi is more than ready to handle your DWI case. For more than 30 years he has represented clients in almost every facet of the law and is now ready to defend you against your DWI. He will thoroughly review the evidence against you and determine the best way to beat your charges.
To set up a free consultation call 732.442.5900 or fill out our online contact form today.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.